I’m astonished by the number of folks who handload but do not own or utilize a chronograph. There is simply no better way to understand or evaluate the performance of the ammunition you are building. Sure, you can shoot targets and see group sizes, but accuracy is just one part of ammunition performance. Trajectory and terminal performance matter, too, and you’ll need a chronograph to sort those out. More important is the handload’s safety, and the only reliable means to evaluate the safety of a handload is to check it with a chronograph.

Chronographs use light sensors to calculate how long it takes a bullet to travel a very short distance. This distance is the space between the light sensors. As the bullet passes over the first sensor, the light to that sensor is blocked. The same thing happens when the bullet passes over the second sensor. The chronograph’s internal computer then measures the time it took the bullet to travel between the sensors and converts that time to feet per second (fps).

A chronograph helps you determine downrange trajectory by allowing you to compare the velocity of the bullet to the bullet’s ballistic coefficient (BC). Velocity and BC are the only two numbers you need to establish bullet trajectory. Lots of times handloaders just guess at velocity based on the data provided in a load manual, but more often than not, that data will be off by as much as 100 fps.

Velocity is also very important when it comes to terminal performance. You want your bullet to hit the target with enough velocity for the bullet to expand and penetrate in a way that tissue destruction is maximized. In order for you to know your bullet’s velocity at 282 yards, you’ll need to shoot it over a chronograph, compare it with the bullet’s BC and then look at a ballistics program to see the velocity at that distance…

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Rifle Rx – Jewel A Rifle

I’m astonished by the number of folks who handload but do not own or utilize…